Trump is like God to many people, who exhibit the same sorts of belief mechanisms as fervent apologists. Jan 6 is Trump apologetics 101.
The January 6th hearings have been eye-opening and should leave no one in two minds about the hugely questionable moral behavior of Trump.
Christian theologians and apologists have one job: to maintain the primacy—the moral perfection—of both God and the Bible. Everything they do is to maintain both at the apex of reality. Such believers hold to a presupposition of the goodness of God and his awesome revelation.
Whether it be in dealing with slavery or rape in the Bible, or understanding suffering and evil in the World, one “truth” must be held: the Bible and God are untouchably awesome and simply cannot be at fault. Theology is then created to muddy the waters, claim that atheists have no right to make moral judgments, blame humans for God’s design and creation faults, and ultimately get God off the hook.
Because God cannot be anything but morally perfect.
Trump was a terrible president. But, politics aside, he was (with his lackeys) unmistakably to blame for much of the insurrection. The prime-time televised hearings have done an excellent job in communicating this, showing it to the world.
But it won’t touch the die-hard believers, which makes the stark similarities between Trump and God, or more accurately, between the die-hard supporters of Donald J. Trump and Christian apologists seem rather obvious.
Trump is their god, and cannot be budged from the zenith of political reality. Therefore, for the Trump apologist, conspiracy theories muddy the waters, whatabout-ery obfuscates by pointing at faults in others, blame is apportioned to Clinton, Obama, Biden, and, well, anybody else other than Trump. Because Trump cannot be anything but morally perfect.
This is no better witnessed than at Trump rallies—political megachurches, if you will—and no better extracted from true believers than by The Tonight Show’s Jordan Klepper:
In that must-see segment, Klepper films cognitive dissonance reduction in real-time. Like with many church-going Christians who haven’t ever read or heard arguments against God’s existence in any meaningful way, so many of these supporters “they haven’t even seen this information.”
How can we expect a Christian layperson to change their mind without them seeing or hearing about evidence or arguments against God’s existence or perfection? How can we expect a Trump loyalist to change their mind without them seeing or hearing about evidence or arguments against Trump’s perfection?
But when they do hear such information, we must remember that they only have one job: to maintain Trump at the top of the political ladder. Klepper documents all of those apologetic mechanisms that they produce—utter nonsenses—that allow them to remain Trump loyalists. It doesn’t matter that such mechanisms are epistemological drivel because they provide a function. These techniques do the job just by being anything. It doesn’t matter what these Trumpistas grasp to get them out of the river as long as it is something. Anything.
And in the cold light of day, they might not back Trump in an election, but not because they don’t believe in him (oh, my, do they ever!) but because they recognize a better political strategy that will oust Biden.
Work with focus groups gives ample evidence of this strategizing:
They give up Trump not in a sense of giving up God, but more like when an apologist is faced inexorably with the philosophical incoherence and abhorrence of hell, then becoming a Christian universalist or an open theist. Trump is still their god, maybe just not their pope. For that, they might opt for DeSantis.
The January 6th hearings might sound like the death knell for Trump as President, but the Trump zealotry is still as fervent among his most loyal supporters. And in a post-truth world where people can live inside their own echo chambers full of co-conspirators, one wonders if there is anything that can be done about that.